Movies/Entertainment,  Quick 5/Top 10

G-S-T Quick 5 – Favorite Sylvester Stallone Roles

While I originally had this post in place to allow his latest film to take a spot here, sadly that’s not the case. While it wasn’t terrible, it wasn’t good either (check out my review here). So current blockbuster not withstanding, this is the list of Sly’s best roles. Some you know, some you might remember seeing and some just might have you saying “I thought I repressed that“. Anyway, I just love the guy and am willing to forgive a bad film knowing he’ll make up for it with the next one. Since he has just over 50 films on his resume, this is a look at the five wildly varied films that I believe to be his finest work. Not bad for a kid from Hell’s Kitchen…


Rocky – Yeah, I did it. The no-brainer choice for the top pick in a list of Stallone’s best roles (I’m Italian, can you blame me?). But you can’t fight a classic and there’s no denying the brilliance of him in the role. Unassuming, confused, lost but still holding on to a dream; hell it’s what makes a hero right? Stallone became a champ in the eyes of the world with this one, had this starred James Caan (or a slew of others as the studio originally wanted) I don’t think it would have the same impacting and generationally resonating effect. The tag line for the movie is “His while life was a one in a million shot” and I’d say that pretty much sums up Stallone’s career pretty well.


Cliffhanger – Oh now this was a good one. Not only was Sly on action overload, but it was actually quite a good movie that stands up amongst his hit and miss films from the 90s. And who would have though John Lithgow to make a menacing villain (I guess the executives who saw Raising Cain). Anyway I think this is a widely enough accepted and loved Stallone film so I think we’ll move on (if it was Demolition Man, I would probably have to go into detail).


Rambo – Many of you might ask “Marc, if The Expendables didn’t make this list then what gives with rampant action-fest that was Rambo 4?” Well I’ll tell you. Sure they both share a shit load of guns and a staggering body count, but Rambo 4 actually had a story to tell. Also small nod to Rambo 2 (or was it 3?) with the neclace he wore makes me and other nostalgic fans smile. Sure it’s like how many times has Rambo been called out of retirement to save the day? Funny how this and the Rocky series end on the same note. Still the film ends with a perfect bookend to what Rambo has been looking to do this whole time…just go home. And Stallone did that fantastically.


Driven – This is another one that people don’t think of (probably because they have forgotten about it…like Get Carter) but Stallone, whether the story sucks or not is just pretty likable. Something about this movie just seems a little more believable than Stallone’s running and gunning films. Maybe its beacuse it’s one of his most down to Earth films (aside from gems like Cobra, Stop or My Mom Will Shoot or Copland). I don’t know but I liked the film and though it was an easier sell than if Stallone was a submarine captain or something crazy like that:P


Oscar – OK not a film that many Sly fans would have on their lists (nor admit to liking it) but that’s what makes this the perfect choice. There’s not a gun or boxing glove in the whole movie. OK maybe a gun but nothing intimidating like an AK-47. Here, Stallone showcases some unexpectedly delightful comic stylings and in a role that is essentially a glorified stage performance. It’s cute, oddly funny and above all, shows a side of Stallone that is just as entertaining as his respective shoot ’em up and pugilist series.


With Sly’s resume taking him to the future a couple of times, to the top of a mountain, sentenced to prison, trapped in a tunnel and even into a video game there’s only a handful of places he’s yet to be…I don’t know if he needs to be in anything uberly far-fetched like Outer Space or an Knight of the Round Table but hey it could happen. All in all I love the guy, even if I didn’t love The Expendables. So what I think comprise the top 10% of his body of work. Agree? Disagree? Love to hear your thoughts.


  • Castor

    Great picks and I agree that Rambo 4 is so much better than The Expendables. I would probably have Judge Dredd in there in place of Oscar.

  • M. Carter @ the Movies

    I am SO HAPPY that you put “Rambo” in here! I’ve seen all the John Rambo films and own them all too, but “Rambo” is my second favorite. You don’t get better action than that, and the ending is very poetic — a perfect stopping point to the franchise.

    Except Stallone, of course, is not one who knows when to stop. Oy.

  • MarcC

    @Castor…I toyed with Judge Dredd but in the end opted for Oscar as I wanted to make this a diverse Sly list. You interested in this upcoming Judge Dredd at all?

    @Mer…Well it wouldn’t be a complete Sly list without it. But I agree with you about Stallone’s inability to put a series to bed. Here’s hoping that all that Rambo 5 idea stays dead.

  • Dan

    Fantastic choice to include Oscar – his funniest performance for me, and a very underrated film. I’d agree with your other choices apart from Driven and maybe Cliffhanger (although I do like it). Perhaps I’d throw Copland into the mix, or perhaps Tango and Cash.

  • Heather

    I like your inclusion of RAMBO! Nice. I’ve never seen Oscar myself, but I’d probably add Demolition Man, Cop Land, or frankly I wouldn’t mind even adding Tango & Cash!